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September 20, 2019

Political Economy of FSM Case Studies on Fringes of Dhaka City

Sajjad Zohir
with support from Umama Rahman and Mizanur Rahman

Paper prepared for the WaterAid Bangladesh

‘Fringe’, defined in dictionaries as marginal or border areas, often provides interesting insights into workings of the ‘core’, and into the relations between the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery’1. One such relation involves the ways core’s ‘garbage’ gets dumped in the periphery which the clustered communities in the fringes have to deal with constantly. Our engagement with the fringes initially began with the urge to pretest designs applied elsewhere (Shakhipur), and to form counterpart images of various hypothetical types of FSM. Two locations were chosen: Dhaka Uddyan (DU) on the western side of Dhaka city near the bank of Turag/Buriganga River; and Merul Badda (MB) on the eastern side of the city bordered by canals which flow into Balu River. The cases are interesting on at least two counts: (i) Following Beesley (1993), one would expect diversity in both administrative governances and FSM practices, and (ii) Final destination of human excreta happen to be water-bodies (or low-lying areas) adjacent to the fringes and alleged encroachments in these water-bodies are likely to be closely linked with the ways FSM is practiced.

The systematic approach to abstracting FSM practices is now widely accepted; beginning with characterization of containment, availing different modes of transport, undergoing treatment (or, remaining untreated), and eventually excreta being disposed into the physical environment we live in. On-site practices by households are often decided a priori by property developers, and these include toilets, other on-site facilities (such as, septic tanks) where human excreta are discharged, and the methods of disposing excreta to conveyors available immediately outside the compounds. The choices on practices adopted onsite are expected to be influenced by the physical infrastructure which shapes the community living, and the latter is expected to be formed by the structure of governance (to be further elaborated later) as well as by the larger infrastructure environment within which the communities operate. Inquiring these relations and finding evidence on the direction of these relations are some of the key objectives of current undertaking.

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